Saturday Links/Open Thread

Saturday, December 5th, 2009
  • Tedd Petruna, hero in his own mind. (Also in Debbie Schlussel’s.)
  • Amanda Knox convicted of murder in Italian court despite the absence of any, well . . . evidence.
  • Possibly the best correction of the year.
  • The man who is apparently going to save health care for all of America nominated his girlfriend to be a U.S. Attorney. So yeah. I can’t see any problem with having our health care system dictated by politicians. No problem at all. I’m sure all decisions will be made based on what’s best for America and stuff. Never on what’s best for the politicians themselves.
  • FDA mistakes an Apple for an apple.
  • Scientists wanted to do a study involving men who have never looked at porn–but couldn’t find any.
  • Will Wilkinson on nationalism, patriotism, and war.
  • Pot smoker shares in the holiday spirit.
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  • 44 Responses to “Saturday Links/Open Thread”

    1. #1 |  Elroy | 

      Regarding the FDA story, I still don’t see why the government should not run health care.

    2. #2 |  Matt | 

      The imac was probably contaminated or viewed as possibly contaminated by other objects in the shipping container…

    3. #3 |  Scott | 

      So get up get get get down
      911 is a joke in yo town
      Late 911 wears the late crown

      Yeesh, not sure which is a better example of stupidity…that or the apple story. Someone could have looked up “911 is a joke” and noticed that it was written in 1990…..wow.

    4. #4 |  Karl | 

      Yes, perhaps the government can not but can corporations? Corporations can be just as vindictive, self-serving, corrupt, inept and misguided as politicians, let’s keep that in mind. That said I don’t recall any of the reform measures put forth saying anything about running health care broadly. I keep reading illusions to that “fact” on this site and others. Is there any evidence of this beyond ideologically driven extrapolation and if it’s just extrapolation why the one way street? Why not apply the same level and consistency of skepticism to insurance companies and not the 1 to 10 comments against government day in and day out?

    5. #5 |  Sam | 

      Are you sure that’s not the best correction of ever, past, present, and future?

    6. #6 |  André | 

      The last story made me think of this link…

      http://www.theonion.com/content/node/30821

    7. #7 |  Tsu Dho Nihm | 

      Speaking of the holidays, happy Repeal Day everyone!

    8. #8 |  Bill | 

      On the Knox trial – I tire of her family complaining on cable news. One of her aunts was complaining that the jurors weren’t sequestered. Well, sorry, but they wouldn’t have been in this country either. You can’t compare everything to the OJ trial (which was not a typical American criminal trial). She then went on to complain about inaccurate and untrue press accounts of her niece. Finally, she said there were press accounts of jurors sleeping (I thought the press was making things up?). She had a public trial, defense attorneys, plenty of time to prepare, cross examination, and her case was heard by two judges and six jurors. Also, I don’t know if she did it or not, but if she had been convicted in America, she would have received Life or Death. 26 years is not a bad sentence for a brutal murder. And she still has an appeal.

    9. #9 |  The Johnny Appleseed Of Crack | 

      Since this is an open thread…

      Your title at the top of the browser:

      “The Agitator – Politics and culture blog of Radley Balko, a libertarian investigative journalist. Focus on civil liberties and criminal justice.”

      is a little bit clunky. It actually gets truncated at the s on journalist. Also, you’re a respected journalist, it seems beneath you to have to state that you are a journalist.

    10. #10 |  Dave Krueger | 

      If they wanted to find men who had never looked at porn, they missed the boat. They should have looked a few decades ago, when it was “educational” material.

    11. #11 |  Mister DNA | 

      Re the Tedd Petruna story… it would be all kinds of awesome if Eddie Izzard did commercials for AirTran.

    12. #12 |  Chuchundra | 

      With respect to who we’d prefer having in charge of our health care.

      Aetna Forcing 600,000-Plus To Lose Coverage In Effort To Raise Profits

      Health insurance giant Aetna is planning to force up to 650,000 clients to drop their coverage next year as it seeks to raise additional revenue to meet profit expectations.

      In a third-quarter earnings conference call in late October, officials at Aetna announced that in an effort to improve on a less-than-anticipated profit margin in 2009, they would be raising prices on their consumers in 2010. The insurance giant predicted that the company would subsequently lose between 300,000 and 350,000 members next year from its national account as well as another 300,000 from smaller group accounts.

      So if the choice is between a Senator who wants to find the woman he’s fucking a job and companies who are looking to fuck hundreds of thousands of people out of health insurance, I have to admit that I’ll take the former.

    13. #13 |  Mike | 

      Oddly, I just finished a great book on the Leo Frank trial. The Knox case — and I base this purely on the media (not a good idea) — reminds me of it very strongly.

    14. #14 |  Elroy | 

      Karl you said:

      “Yes, perhaps the government can not but can corporations? Corporations can be just as vindictive, self-serving, corrupt, inept and misguided as politicians, let’s keep that in mind.”

      You are absolutely right and if they are I can go elsewhere. There is no elsewhere when the governments involved.

    15. #15 |  Invid | 

      Maybe there was more evidence on Knox than you think:

      http://barelyablog.com/?p=18035

    16. #16 |  Cornellian | 

      I like this excerpt from the porn study article:

      “Prof Lajeunesse said pornography did not have a negative effect on men’s sexuality.

      “Not one subject had a pathological sexuality,” he said. “In fact, all of their sexual practices were quite conventional.

      “Pornography hasn’t changed their perception of women or their relationship, which they all want to be as harmonious and fulfilling as possible,” he added.”

      In other words, puritanical busybodies of the religious right, STFU and stop trying to get the government to control what people can look at.

    17. #17 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #16 Cornellian

      In other words, puritanical busybodies of the religious right, STFU and stop trying to get the government to control what people can look at.

      One mistake people make regarding sex related laws is assuming they are the product of the right wing. Laws that target the sex industry (of which porn is only a part) enjoy, and are passed with, strong bipartisan support. Generally speaking, it’s one of the politically safe areas for legislation. When was the last time you heard of a significant grass-roots movement or any mainstream political organization actively campaigning to loosen the laws governing sex related businesses?

      Admittedly, the ACLU has been a supporter of free expression and they certainly deserve credit for that, but it’s important to note their victories were won in the courts, not in the legislatures where irrational sex legislation often sails through like shit through a goose.

    18. #18 |  Toastrider | 

      Elroy: Correct. This is the big, big issue I have with the ‘public option’. Proponents insist it will ‘compete on a level with private industry’ or such nonsense.

      This is akin to a Monopoly game, where the banker can play, using the bank’s money. It is inherently unfair. In theory, a private business that suffers losses has to take it on the chin (in theory, anyways; thanks to bailouts that’s all messed up now). Government programs, though, don’t have to justify their existence; if they run short, they just go with hat in hand and ask for more money.

      There are numerous ways to repair what may be broken (I personally like eliminating restrictions on interstate competition, myself). The 2,000 page turd being debated in the Senate is just going to break it even worse.

    19. #19 |  skunky | 

      I find people engaging in pseudo-rational arguments with Jonah Goldberg to be nauseating in the extreme, as it legitimizes Goldberg’s position as some sort of intellectual to be argued with.

    20. #20 |  skunky | 

      So Radley, if not politicians deciding what’s best for the people, what is your alternative? Robot overlords? Aliens?

    21. #21 |  JS | 

      Any news of the drama down in Marakafka county?

    22. #22 |  Karl | 

      For those who addressed my comments I still perceive a lot ideological or anti-government extrapolation toward reform efforts. Not one mention of business’s capacity for all of the same evils implied by government involvement. Skepticism regarding the government’s OPTION but none towards the legalese minefield of the average health insurance contract is puzzling. Corporations especially insurance companies have historically provided just as much reason to draw the ire of libertarian and anti-government ideologues, why the free pass?

    23. #23 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      “So if the choice is between a Senator who wants to find the woman he’s fucking a job and companies who are looking to fuck hundreds of thousands of people out of health insurance, I have to admit that I’ll take the former.”

      This is an inaccurate summary of the choices available.

    24. #24 |  Elroy | 

      Karl – I agree with you that companies have the capacity to do evil. I have experienced it personally. The evil they can do is limited by their power. My health insurance company cannot arrest me, cannot compel me to purchase health insurance from them and cannot prevent me from finding other means to receive medical treatment. The government can and will. So to illustrate a point, having an insurance company run by Satan is not as great a threat as having the government provided health care run by well meaning bureaucrats due simply to the fact that the insurance company does not have the powers of the state. The government option is not competition, there is nothing competitive about it unless the insurance companies have the same power to make laws and enforce them.

    25. #25 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      Karl,
      I choose to not do business with Monster Cable because their CEO is a prick (IMO). I have no such choice with the US government.

      Then you have issues with efficient allocation of capital, Constitution role of government, and corporate statism. So I think it is unfair for anyone to simply state government bad, corporations good. Luckily, no one I know of is saying that.

      I sure hear a lot of people saying corporations bad, government good. And that is just silly.

    26. #26 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      So Radley, if not politicians deciding what’s best for the people, what is your alternative? Robot overlords? Aliens?

      Why are you so anxious to have someone decide for you? It needs to go the way of kings and dukes.

      Human evolution, man. Catch it!

    27. #27 |  Karl | 

      Elroy-

      So in your illustration, having Satan, who we know intends ruin for all mankind, run an insurance company would be better than a well meaning bureaucrat? I can see you have principles but come on man! You might be jumping the ideological shark on that one.

      Other commenters-

      Sorry guys, I’m still reading these posts as being harder on government than insurance companies and as I’ve said before they have done just as much to warrant skepticism. Yes, they are not the state and do not have powers of the state but with health care spending now at 18% of GDP and projected to be closer to a third of GDP in the next 25 without reform wouldn’t insurance companies become a de facto part of the government? Why not extrapolate that they, having that much economic clout and only beholden to shareholders would influence legislation that could end in arrests, seizing of property due to non-payment and all the other nasty things implied by the government attempting to offer an OPTION. This scenario fits the narrative I’m hearing just as much as the one staring the government bogeyman/bureaucrat. Lastly, health Care is not cable, department store goods or a car all of which depend on disposable income and are non-essential purchases. To compare health insurance to those sorts of consumer relationships borders on the disingenuous.

    28. #28 |  Lovely_Feather | 

      Amanda Knox is completely innocent. People that visit this site should be familiar with “extreme police interrogation.” How convenient for the Italian police to have not recorded the interrogation nor have a transcript of the interrogation where they claim she confessed to being at the crime scene during the murder. The prosecutor has a prior history of accusing American author Douglas Preston of taking part in Satanic sex rituals. How weird it is that he accuses Amanda Knox of the same thing. The prosecutor is an evil man obsessed with the idea of Satanic sex rituals. As for one of the prior posts where it is suggested that there may be more evidence against Amanda Knox than it appears, I went to that website and one of the things it focused on was the “so-called” murder weapon. This video on YouTube from CBS News addresses those claims.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDwgJJzQZOo

      “48 Mysterious Hours” was dedicated to this case tonight on CBS, and it picked apart the case against Amanda and her former boyfriend. They are both completely innocent.

      More people need to be upset about this case.

    29. #29 |  JThompson | 

      To my fellow liberals who question why the government running health care could be a bad thing: Have you read the bills they’ve put forth? Did you see how badly they buggered a concept that could have been simple and straightforward? THAT is why government has problems running health care. By the time every fool legislator has stuck his uh..’finger’ in the pie for his lobbyist friends absolutely no one wants to eat it.

      The government’s current idea of saving health care is to force everyone to buy insurance from the health insurance companies. You know, in the name of the free market. So they basically combined the absolute worst qualities of socialism with the absolute worst qualities of an unrestrained free market. And managed to create something far worse than either could ever have hoped to be.

      I’d have been happy with the government creating a public option that allows people to buy in and you have to wait a year for it to kick in to prevent people waiting until they get sick to buy it and no other mandates at all. It would’ve been real competition, and if it sucked you still had the options you had before. And it has to pay for itself. Instead our legislators hand us Frankenturd (no relation to Al Franken) and they wonder why people are pissed off.

    30. #30 |  Alex | 

      Karl,

      Look man, the public option is a Trojan horse to single-payer. An industry with 300 hundred competitors isn’t going to be transformed by one more. Denying this is disingenuous. Advocate single-payer, and I’ll offer an opposing argument. Advocate publicly-funded catastrophic health care, and I’ll say you’re getting close. But step back and recognize that you’ve just diagnosed the problem as long contracts and lobbying and offered as the solution . . . a fucking 1200 page bill.

      Also, conflating health care and health insurance won’t score you any points here.

    31. #31 |  Alex | 

      JJThompson,

      I didn’t see your comment before I posted mine. Pretty interesting. It’s like you drove a par 4, lagged it within a foot, then inexplicably pulled out the 3 wood and hit an old lady two holes over.

    32. #32 |  Contracts | 

      Might I question the pornography study? Granted, I’m a little older than the target study group (I’m 26), but they were first exposed, on average, at 10? That suggests to me that either the study had an extremely loose definition of “exposure to pornography” or that the study didn’t do a very good job of finding a sample. Or that I’m just hopelessly old (at 26).

    33. #33 |  Lovely_Feather | 

      Amanda Knox is completely innocent. People that visit this site should be familiar with “extreme police interrogation.” How convenient for the Italian police to have not recorded the interrogation nor have a transcript of the interrogation where they claim she confessed to being at the crime scene during the murder. The prosecutor has a prior history of accusing American author Douglas Preston of taking part in Satanic sex rituals. How weird it is that he accuses Amanda Knox of the same thing. The prosecutor is an evil man obsessed with the idea of Satanic sex rituals. As for one of the prior posts where it is suggested that there may be more evidence against Amanda Knox than it appears, I went to that website and one of the things it focused on was the “so-called” murder weapon. This video on YouTube from CBS News addresses those claims.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDwgJJzQZOo

      “48 Hours Mystery” was dedicated to this case tonight on CBS, and it picked apart the case against Amanda and her former boyfriend. They are both completely innocent.

      More people need to be upset about this case.

    34. #34 |  CC | 

      The prosecution’s version of the crime in the Knox trial seemed so weird. They seemed to be saying that Knox hated her roommate, so played sex games with her, her boyfriend and a man she didn’t know, and then murdered Kercher in the middle of those sex games. They’ve already convicted the man Amanda didn’t know of the crime.

      Also, they think it is telling that Knox’s DNA was all over the apartment where she was living.

      The prosecution’s case just seems so odd.

    35. #35 |  Karl | 

      Alex-

      Their is nothing wrong with conflating health care and health insurance. One feeds into the other, hence the conflation. The goal of insurance is to insure individuals health care so I’m not sure what your point is.

      Others-
      Again what’s with all the one way skepticism? You want to talk Trojan horse how about the one of deregulation and tort reform leading to higher cost and less coverage. I know these proposals aren’t in front of congress but neither is universal health care, I’m just joining in on the extrapolation game. Read the bill? How about demand that we all read the web of legalese that blankets every private insurance contracts (over 300 companies at last count) or the complex billing templates for hospitals? Again, why concentrate your fire solely on the government? Corporations have just as many nasty tendencies as government, spread the anti-bureaucratic angst around why don’t you. Also, I’m not sure how you make legislation dealing with nearly 20% of the economy a ten page brief or even a 110 page one but apparently some people here are sure it can be done.

    36. #36 |  Frank | 

      #20 As a certain author put it, “Think for yourself, schmuck!”

    37. #37 |  SamK | 

      Karl, don’t get too defensive…you’re arguing an unpopular viewpoint here and (since I don’t see “Karl” often) I assume you’re not used to arguing with these folks since you’re not using the same language and talking to the core of their disagreements. You’re doing a fine job of arguing, and I like to instigate real discussion through arguments so please continue.

      I’ve said many times here I’m a fan of socialized medicine (those that think I’m an idiot have that line memorized I’m sure) but I recently got my own anecdote to tell…blew multiple disks in my back, couldn’t walk for five weeks, and got a six inch hole cut in me (surgery) to fix it. The surgery only came this fast because I got lucky and knew people that knew people and lemme tell you, five weeks ain’t fast to your boss or your body or anyone else. Besides this I went from a reasonably well-to-do engineer to being broke and having a literally three inch stack of bills that even I am having trouble deciphering….and this is after workman’s comp took over most of my actual expenses and I have *spectacular* group insurance.

      So, to reiterate my thoughts on the matter, I seriously dislike the health care bill. It neither seriously attempts to implement gov’t run care nor tries to fix the terrible mess we have…which is my primary point: it’s not that the gov’t is going to do it well, just that even they’ll have a hard time making it any worse than it is already, and change is necessary to move to any better system or implementation of the current system, even if the first steps are…well, terrible.

      Also I don’t think the monster cable analogy is a good one. I can use a coat hanger and get a good signal compared to that expensive crap, but I can’t get viable health care for $0.29 (which is the point, there currently is NOT alternative choice in the market)…not that I don’t get your point (which I do disagree with), but try fine tuning the reference; you have good arguments usually and that one’s a bit off.

    38. #38 |  Karl | 

      Samk-

      I’m not defensive at all, just hoping (in vain it seems) for some consistency on this issue. Also, the cable analogy was not mine but Boyd Durkin’s, he used it to address me, I think it’s off as well. I’m a longtime reader first and probably last time commenter. The continuous knee-jerk slippery slope-ism that I see here with regards to so many issues but specifically the government’s effort towards reform pulled me in but this format and setting only has so much appeal. I’m by no means a pro-gov absolutist but neither am I a free market or libertarian one. As I’ve continued to say on this thread that insurance companies and corporations in general have done just as much to draw honest skepticism as government. Unfortunately that sort of global critique seems to be lacking here. Other than that it’s a great site.

    39. #39 |  SamK | 

      hm, forgot to mention that was Boyd’s…oh well. Even still, I know it’s frustrating when you don’t get any support so consider me a smidge of support :)…if someone isn’t trying to focus things on the reasonable arguments from the opposing viewpoint it’s hard to have a real discussion here. Please stay :)

    40. #40 |  André Kenji | 

      Another problem: anyone that knows Italy and reads italian can perceive the blatantly sexism that lead to Knox´s veredict. It´s true that America may not be better, but, again, is terrible to see people on both of the Atlantic defending this thing(Including the people of Fox News).

    41. #41 |  Fluffy | 

      You know, I used to complain that the US was disrespecting the legal system of an ally when we refused to extradite the CIA agents who have been convicted of kidnapping in Italy in absentia.

      I guess I have to change my mind about that.

      I would try to evaluate the prosecution’s case against Knox charitably, but it doesn’t seem like they even bothered to offer one. They basically offered a somewhat weak case against her boyfriend, and then said, “And here is an American whore! Convict her too!” And got a conviction for it. Because apparently Italy has a Mickey Mouse POS legal system, I guess.

    42. #42 |  Steve Jean | 

      “Oh, I’m sorry. We were mistaken. The cooler only held 1 bag of marijuana. I’m not sure who thought it contained 4.”

      With apologies to Mel “20 Commandments” Brooks.

    43. #43 |  Kwix | 

      FDA vs Apple followup.
      From an anon poster on BoingBoing experiencing the same problem:
      “This is from UPS:

      Thank you for your e-mail. I tracked your package and confirmed that the contents of your package do require FDA clearance. Computers, Notebook and Laptop Computers containing CD/DVD drives as components require clearance from the Food and Drug Administration. Delays due to clearance through government agencies are outside of UPS control. As of 12/06, the FDA has cleared the package. Delivery is scheduled for tomorrow. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help. I apologize for the delay.”

      My best guess is that since said PC is shipping from China, and the CD/DVD drives contain a health hazard (LASER), the FDA gets to make claim checking them on their budget. Fascinating.

    44. #44 |  Andrew Williams | 

      #19:
      “I find people engaging in pseudo-rational arguments with Jonah Goldberg to be nauseating in the extreme, as it legitimizes Goldberg’s position as some sort of intellectual to be argued with.”

      QFT. Goldberg is an obvious neo-con troll and tool. “Shanda fur de goyim.”

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